Back at the beginning of the 20th century, Sunday worship took place in a small wooden hut, not far from the church’s current site.
We have to admit we do not know when St Nicholas was built, it remains a mystery. This is a major and prestigious building built in the middle of a forest in the middle of nowhere. Architectural historians have dated the building to various dates between 950 and 1050 AD. Considering political and social issues, the best guess of a foundation date is 975AD, during the reign of King Edward the Peaceable. Exactly how old the church is remains an intriguing problem.
The national significance of the church is not in doubt, around 99% of the walls of the nave the three great arches, the two Porticus and the Chancel are original Anglo-Saxon stonework.
As an indicator of just how large and impressive is St Nicholas, it’s form and dimensions closely match the Old Minster at Winchester then the most important church in Britain. The great Chancel arch is among the largest in Britain, and the double windows of the nave and the two high opposed nave doors are rare features of Anglo Saxon buildings.
The church is approached through a 16th century lychgate, and the main entrance is through the 14th century west door. Immediately inside the West door you are standing beneath a gallery which is used by the choir and houses the organ given in 1903 by Sir Weetman and Lady Pearson (later Viscount and Viscountess Cowdray) to commemorate the coming of age of their eldest son.
At the back of the church stands the font. The upper part dates from the end of the 13th century but stands on an old base which maybe Anglo Saxon. The Anglo Saxon windows, high on each side of the nave, two to the north and one to the south, were only rediscovered during the Victorian restoration. Although not unique, they are rare within the nave of the church. The very lofty doorways to the north and south of the nave are characteristic of Anglo Saxon doorways. It is likely the south was used by men and boys and the north for women and girls, as Anglo Saxon congregations were separated by gender.
You are very welcome at any of our services and/or events.